George Graham

The Case for Matriarchy: Men Build Bombs; Women Grow Food.

We men have made such a mess of it that we should let women rule the world for a change. I know, women can be frustrating, irritating, illogical and – did I mention frustrating? Anyway, with all their faults, they have a much better understanding than men of the basic laws of survival. Yes, I am generalizing. So sue me. You know what I mean. Most of the time, women by and large, etc. etc.

boomOne fatal fault that men (most men, by and large, most of the time, etc.) share is the urge to make things go boom. Check out the “guy movies.” If something doesn’t get blasted to smithereens in the first five minutes, you know it’s going to be a bust at the box office. If I were a shrink I would be theorizing about this being a metaphor for “getting off,” but as a lifelong observer, I can only say for sure that males are fascinated by explosions for whatever reason.

When did you last hear of a woman being a gun collector? Owning a military tank for the sheer joy of it? Blowing up a world trade center? Starting a war? The last one I can remember is Catherine the Great. Or was it Elizabeth I? Anyway, women who enjoy violence are extremely rare. (And no, guys, they do not like “masterful” men who force their attentions on them, regardless of what your cousin Joe – or whoever – may have told you when you were 12.)

womenWhat women do best is raise kids, grow and prepare food, make clothes, care for the sick, help the poor, listen to men brag, soothe our frayed egos… Am I being sexist? Hey, I am what I am. I’m a guy. Don’t expect too much from me. Besides, I grew up in Jamaica, where women did all those things – and more – as a matter of course. Jamaica was, and for all I know still is, a matriarchal society. Jamaican grandmas are formidable forces, not to be trifled with. Strong men cower under the lash of their tongues. And in the Jamaica of my childhood, women did a lot of the heavy lifting.

One of my most enduring memories is the sight of a line of Indian women loaded down by baskets of produce on their heads and an Indian man heading the line with nothing to carry but the stick on his shoulder. I was told it was a custom imported from India where the man’s duty was to ward off tigers. The fact that no tiger has ever been seen in Jamaica (except at the Hope Gardens zoo)  didn’t make any difference. A custom is a custom.

Anyway, you must be wondering what set off this rant on a beautiful fall morning, when I seem to be in good health and I don’t have to go to work? And, as usual, it’s something in my Yahoo “in” basket. It’s a message from a group called Change.org.

On the organization’s list of injustices this morning are such things as:

Avoiding the Death Penalty (pinting out the excruciating injustices of the criminal justice system in Texas);

The Church vs. the Homeless (the Catholic Church has threatened to stop providing social services in Washington DC if the District recognizes equal rights for gays and lesbians);

Republican Abortion Hypocrisy (the party provides its employees with abortion insurance while fighting any such provision in the new health care bill);

Discrimination at Death (Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri vetoed a law that would have allowed gays and lesbians to plan the funerals for their deceased partners).

But, with all of the above to get me going, what lit my burners was a fairly innocuous article by Katherine Gustafson describing the vital role women play in global agriculture and the way they’re being shafted.

cropsHere’s an excerpt:

Women grow more than half of the world’s food and the lion’s share (as much as 80 percent) of the food in developing countries, reports the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations… Despite their majority contribution, however, women only own 2 percent of the world’s land, according to UN WomenWatch. Around the world, women are deprived of legal rights to the land they toil over day after day.
Zainab Salbi, founder and CEO of Women for Women International, pointed out … that this is a bigger problem than simple unfairness. “We cannot address environmental issues, sustainable farming issues, industrial agriculture issues, food crisis, if we are going to ignore [the fact that women are over 80 percent of the world’s farmers and they own about 2 percent of land in the world],” she said. “How can you have a policy that ignores the people that are doing the work on a daily basis?”

How indeed? It’s about time somebody did something about the abuse of women farmers all over the world. And it’s only fitting that a woman should be in the forefront of the battle. A woman like U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton proclaimed at the closing session of the 2009 Global Initiative in September that improving the lot of women farmers will be a priority for the Obama Administration.

At the G-8 Summit in July, President Obama pledged a minimum of $3.5 billion over the next three years as a contribution to the $20 billion pledged by all the G-8 nations toward strengthening global agricultural systems. And a sizable chunk of that money will go toward boosting women’s rights to the land they farm.

“We have seen again and again . . . that women are entrepreneurial, accountable and practical,” said Clinton. “So women are a wise investment. And since the majority of the world’s farmers are women, it’s critical that our investments in agriculture leverage their ambition and perseverance.”

So women are entrepreneurial, accountable, practical and persevering… Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say the same thing about the men who run the world?

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com